What Is the Serious Injury Threshold in PA?
If you have a limited tort policy, you cannot recover compensation for your pain and suffering unless the court decides you have sustained a “serious injury.” But how badly do you have to be hurt for your injury to be serious? According to Pennsylvania law, a serious injury is “a personal injury resulting in death, serious impairment of body function or permanent serious disfigurement.” But this is not exactly an exhaustive list of qualifications and conditions. The court must evaluate your condition to determine how the harm you have suffered measures up to similar injuries that either passed the threshold or fell short.
Catastrophic injuries, those that permanently alter the victim’s life, are clearly serious. These include paralysis, amputation, traumatic brain injury, blindness, and loss of hearing. But more common injuries tend to exist in a grey area, and could be decided either way.
Here are some facts a court may consider for various types of injuries:
- Broken bones — A displaced fracture, especially one that requires surgery to set, may be a serious injury. A hairline fracture is probably not serious.
- Concussion — A mild concussion is probably not serious within the meaning of the law. Additional symptoms, such as vomiting, vertigo, slurred speech, severe headaches, depression, fatigue, and mood swings might make it a serious injury, unless the symptoms cleared up quickly.
- Burns and scars — Scarring on a part of the body that is generally visible, such as the face, neck or hands, constitutes a serious injury if the marks are large enough to produce disfigurement. Scars that interfere with intimacy are likely to be considered serious.
- Bulging discs — It can be difficult to convince a court that a soft tissue injury is serious. The key is whether a bulging disc creates a serious impairment when it comes to standing, sitting, walking, running or other normal activity.
Getting your injury out of the grey area and over the serious injury threshold requires a thorough presentation of the condition with reliable diagnostic and testimonial evidence. A plaintiff’s attorney often consults experts in medicine and rehabilitation who can testify that the injured party’s pain, which cannot be measured diagnostically, nevertheless interferes with bodily function substantially enough to present a serious impairment. Without experienced legal representation, an injured party with a grey-area injury has little chance of making a persuasive case the injury is serious. That could mean losing out on thousands of dollars or more in pain and suffering compensation.
If you’ve been injured in a car crash in western Pennsylvania, trust Rudberg Law Offices, LLC to get you the compensation you deserve. Call 412-488-6000 or contact our Pittsburgh office online to schedule a free consultation.